PEACE OF MIND MADE THE DIFFERENCE IN TRAVEL MANAGEMENT PARTNERSHIP FOR GLOBAL CANDY COMPANY, PERFETTI VAN MELLE
Perfetti Van Melle is one of the world's largest manufacturers and distributors of confectionary and chewing gum with global distribution in 150 countries. Perfetti has hundreds of employees who travel the globe extensively and therefore, travel is an essential part of their business operations and strategic growth.
AAA works on Perfetti’s behalf to be proactive, diligent, and above all, dependable. From securing reduced rates for airfare, hotel, car and rail needs, to monitoring travel alerts for every Perfetti traveler internationally, AAA provides the support they need to effectively and efficiently manage their travelers and travel program.
Contract expiration: enter the RFP process
Perfetti Van Melle had been a client of AAA Corporate Travel for 20+ years. Although they were extremely satisfied with the level of customer service they received as a client, their contract with AAA was up for renewal so Perfetti was required by procurement practice to request proposals from various travel management companies (TMC’s) to ensure they were choosing the best partner for their business.
Unfortunately, the RFP selection and scorecarding process doesn’t always capture intangible offerings like customer service, relationships, and dependability.
This was the case for Perfetti. In 2019, Perfetti made the decision to partner with a different TMC after promises of lower fees and added concessions like increased credit card rebates were made. They were also promised the same access and setup with the Concur online booking tool, which they previously used at AAA as well. On December 6, 2019, Perfetti officially made the switch away from AAA.
Painful experiences lead to regret
Once the switch was made and the new TMC had fully implemented Perfetti’s travel program, it didn’t take long for employee travelers as well as Perfetti’s travel program coordinator, Melissa Traucht, to realize there was a significant difference between their new TMC and AAA. Melissa quickly began to receive complaints and calls from her employee travelers about the new Concur setup and the level of support offered by their corporate travel agents. “The new TMC did use Concur as promised but the interface didn’t work as seamlessly. Many times our travelers were booking the “basic economy fares” or hotels with “pay in full” at the time of booking, and we were unable to make any changes to their reservations,” explains Melissa. “Even simple things like calling to speak with a travel agent. They would claim they were unable to see our information due to the system being “offline.” AAA was always able to see our entire system and make changes or new travel reservations.”
After six frustrating weeks of technology issues and a lack of resolution or customer support, it was clear that the new TMC did not provide the same level of support and service as AAA had. On January 24, 2020, Perfetti contacted AAA Corporate Travel with the announcement that they would be returning as a client.
Melissa explains, “It didn’t take long for us to understand that the new TMC’s offerings and promises weren’t apples to apples. And we quickly returned to AAA. For us it was all about peace of mind, caring, dependability. We just weren’t getting the service we needed.”
Needless to say, AAA was thrilled with their decision to return, as Jenny Corken, Account Manager for AAA Corporate Travel, explains, “we pride ourselves on our customer service. We were sad when they left, but to have them return to us so quickly was confirmation that we’re doing the right thing to service our clients.”
Making the switch back to AAA
After receiving the call, the AAA Corporate Travel team quickly put a plan in motion to reactivate the Perfetti account. The new TMC had not requested a transfer of their files and traveler information when the switch was made in December 2019, which was a red flag to the AAA team. Therefore, we decided not to immediately archive the Perfetti account files and traveler profiles in case an issue with the new TMC arose. That turned out to be a very good decision on AAA’s part. After an extraordinary effort was made by AAA, Perfetti was back up and running within a few weeks. What typically takes 6-8 weeks to implement a transfer was accomplished in record time. “Melissa asked us if we could please get them back up fast. Because we had not archived or deleted any of Perfetti’s profiles yet, we were quickly able to get them implemented again,” says Corken.
Once Perfetti was completely transferred back to AAA, they were thrilled to be “home” again. As Melissa explains, “Each agent with AAA knows our travelers and Perfetti. The other TMC did not have the same relationship with Concur that AAA does and so they could not provide some of the much-needed (and expected) valued-added services. We feel incredibly safe sending our travelers around the world when they are in the hands of AAA.”
A partnership built on trust and care
Perfetti needed a travel management partner who anticipated their needs, secured the most economical travel, and could manage their complex travel requirements. Even with promises of lower costs and rebates, the “larger” TMC could not provide the same level of attention and service that Perfetti had grown to expect with AAA.
When asked what Perfetti would tell a company looking for a travel management partner, Melissa had this to say: “Everyone at AAA has such a high degree of caring for their customers and it shows. In our opinion, AAA is the best in the business. Would we recommend them? Absolutely!”